New Mexico v. United States Trust Co. - 172 U.S. 171 (1898)
U.S. Supreme Court
New Mexico v. United States Trust Co., 172 U.S. 171 (1898)
New Mexico v. United States Trust Company
Argued October 25-26, 1898
Decided December 5, 1898
172 U.S. 171
The provision in Sec. 2 of the Act of July 27, 1866, c. 278, 14 Stat. 292, 294, which exempts from taxation within the territories of the United States the right of way granted by the act to the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad Company operates to exempt from such taxation the land itself to the extent to which it is made by the act subject to such right of way, and all structures erected thereon.
In so deciding, the Court does not question the rule of construction declared in Vicksburg, Shreveport & Pacific Railroad v. Thomas, 116 U. S. 665, and followed in Yazoo &c. Railroad v. Thomas, 132 U. S. 174; Wilmington & Weldon Railroad v. Alsbrook, 146 U. S. 279; Keokuk & Western Railroad v. Missouri, 152 U. S. 301; Norfolk & Western Railroad v. Pendleton, 156 U. S. 667, and Covington &c. Turnpike Co. v. Sandford, 169 U. S. 578, but rests the present decision simply on the terms of the statute.
This case was begun by the filing in the District Court for Bernalillo County, in the Territory of New Mexico, by the district attorney for the territory, of an intervening petition on behalf of the territory, praying for an order against the receiver of the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad Company requiring him to pay the amount of taxes claimed to be due upon the improvements on the right of way of said railroad company in the County of Bernalillo, and upon stationhouses and other improvements at seven different stations in said county. The taxes claimed were for the years 1893, 1894, and 1895.
The case was submitted upon the following agreed statement of facts:
"For the purposes of the hearing to be had upon the intervening petition of the Territory of New Mexico in the above-entitled cause and answers thereto of C. W. Smith, the receiver of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company, and the United States Trust Company, it is hereby stipulated and agreed by
and between said above-named parties that the following facts shall be accepted and received by the judge or court in determining the questions involved as the facts in the case:"
"That on and prior to January 1, 1892, the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company, under the provisions of its charter, definitely located its line of road and right of way through Bernalillo County, which said right of way so located involved all necessary grounds for station buildings, workshops, depots, machine shops, switches, side tracks, turntables, and water stations. That upon said right of way so located through the City of Albuquerque, in said county, were definitely located necessary grounds for station buildings, workshops, depots, machine shops, side tracks, turntables, and water stations, and there were also located upon said right of way at the Atlantic and Pacific Junction at Chaves or Mitchell, at Coolidge, at Wingate, at Gallup, and at Manuelito, necessary grounds for station buildings, work shops, depots, machine shops, switches, side tracks, turntables, and water stations."
"That thereafterwards and prior to 1893, there was built and constructed upon said right of way by the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company from a point of junction with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Company at Isleta, fifteen miles south of Albuquerque, a railroad along said right of way from said junction point to the Colorado River, in the Territory of Arizona. That the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company has, under an agreement with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Company, occupied and used the tracks of the last-named company between the junction of the two railroads at Isleta and the City of Albuquerque as and for the railroad of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company to the extent that its business required the use and operation of such railroad for itself, or, in other words, under contract between the two companies, the railroad of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Company through the City of Albuquerque to the junction at Isleta, a distance of about fifteen miles, is jointly used by the two railroad companies; said railroad running through the reservations for machine shops, etc., aforesaid, of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company at
Albuquerque. That the right of way so located by the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company and upon which it built its railroad, as aforesaid, runs through Bernalillo County, and is situated in Bernalillo County, as follows:"
"Commencing at the A. & P. Junction referred to, it runs thence, in a westerly direction, 4 miles 3,780 feet, to the division line between Bernalillo County and Valencia County, and then, after crossing a portion of Valencia County at a point known as 'Station 5,247,' it again runs through Bernalillo County 68 miles and 44 feet to the west line of the County of Bernalillo, being the west line of the Territory of New Mexico, which said right of way, outside of the reservation for station grounds, etc., was located and is of the width of 200 feet, being 100 feet on each side of the center of the railroad track located thereon."
"That in due time, the former receivers of the property of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company appointed by this court returned to the Assessor of Bernalillo County, as property belonging to said railroad company, taxable in said county, certain property, which was and is described in said returns as follows, to-wit:"
"List of personal property belonging to, claimed by, or in the possession or under the control of, the receivers of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company (Western Division), a corporation created by act of Congress, having its principal place of business at Albuquerque, New Mexico."
"The line of its road running through the Counties of Bernalillo and Valencia, in said Territory of New Mexico; thence through the Counties of Apache, Navajo, Coconino, Yavapai, and Mohave, in the Territory of Arizona, to the eastern boundary line of the State of California; thence through the Counties of San Bernardino and Kern, in said state, to the western end of said line, and its terminus at Mojave, in said County of Kern -- a total distance of 805.86 miles, the total mileage of said line owned by said company in said Territory of New Mexico being 166.6, of which 73.142 are in Bernalillo County and 93.458 miles are in Valencia County."
"And the receivers of the property of said company
make a full report of all of its personal property as follows, to-wit:"
All the locomotives, passenger coaches,
express and mail cars, cabooses, box,
flat, and coal cars, push cars, hand
cars, and all other equipments owned,
possessed, or used by said receivers
or said company upon the entire line
aforesaid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $452,960
Track tools, and all other personal
property not having its situs or domicile
in some other state or territory,
including office and station furniture,
law library, books, stationery, supplies,
and material, etc. at Albuquerque,
Mitchell, Coolidge, Wingate, Gallup, and
Manuelito . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78,000
Personal property within the city
limits of Albuquerque . . . . . . . . . . . . 200,000
Personal property within the city
limits of Gallup. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5,000
"That the above and foregoing was all the property returned for taxation in Bernalillo County by said receivers or by the railroad company itself, and that the same was made as the assignment of the property of said company subject to taxation in said County for the year A.D. 1895. That the County Assessor of Bernalillo County in the year 1895, under the direction of the Board of County Commissioners of said county, placed on the assessment roll an assessment of property against the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company for the year 1893. A true and correct copy of the assessment roll, showing such assessment so placed thereon, is filed with this as a part hereof, and as Exhibit 1, which said exhibit shows the taxes levied, together with the values and penalties. That at the time the said assessor, under the instructions of said board, placed upon said assessment roll certain property claimed to be taxable property belonging to said railroad company, which was omitted from taxation for the year 1894. A true and correct copy of the assessment so made is shown by Exhibit 2, herewith filed and made a part hereof."
"That the said assessor at the same time placed upon said
assessment roll property claimed to have been omitted and belonging to said company for the year 1895, a true and correct copy of which said assessment roll, with said last-named assessment placed upon it, is shown by Exhibit 3, hereto attached and made a part hereof and filed herewith."
"That these exhibits show precisely the descriptions of property entered by the assessor, the penalties added, and the values, and also the taxes levied thereon. Exhibit 3 also shows the description of the property as returned by the receivers."
"That all the property so placed upon the assessment roll by the assessor, outside of that returned by the receivers, was placed upon said assessment roll without the knowledge or consent of the receivers, or of said railroad company. That the entire property placed upon the assessment roll by said assessor, outside of the property returned by the receivers, constituted and constitutes an actual part and portion of the roadbed and railroad track thereon situated on the right of way of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company in Bernalillo County, in the Territory of New Mexico, and constitutes the railroad used and occupied by the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company under its charter and in accordance with the provisions thereof, and the machine shops, station buildings, water tanks, section houses, and other buildings of like character connected with, and a part of, the machinery used in the operation of said railroad. That each and every item of property described in the assessments so placed upon the said assessment roll, outside of the property returned by the receivers, is property that is actually and permanently attached to the right of way and station grounds of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company, and constitutes an actual part and portion of the superstructure placed upon said right of way by said railroad company for its railroad, and for its machine shops, turntables, sidetracks, switches, water tanks, station buildings, and other buildings of the same class and character, actually used and needed in the operation of said railroad, and that no part of the same was at the time of the placing of said assessment upon said assessment rolls by the
assessors, detached from the actual right of way and station grounds of said railroad company, but, on the contrary, was firmly affixed thereto. That it was described as it was by the assessor in placing the same upon the assessment roll for the purpose of escaping the exemption from taxation contained in the second section of the Act of Congress approved July 27, 1866, known as the 'Charter of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company,' the assessor desiring to assess everything placed on the right of way separate from the right of way, no matter how permanently attached and affixed to the right of way."
"That during the year 1893, there were no receivers in possession of said property, and that said railroad was being operated by the railroad company itself, and if any property was omitted to be returned for taxation which ought to have been returned to the Assessor of Bernalillo County, it was the fault and neglect of the railroad company itself, and not the fault and neglect of the receivers afterwards appointed."
"That at Albuquerque, upon the reservations and station grounds, there were situated the largest machine shops of the said railroad company, the general office building, and such buildings as pertain to the headquarters of a railroad company. Said buildings and reservation constitute the headquarters of the Western Division of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company, and, since the appointment of receivers, of the receivers operating the same."
"That the assessor, in placing each of these three assessments upon the assessment rolls as stated, added to the actual value of the property one-fourth of such value as a penalty for the failure on the part of the receiver to return such property for taxation."
"That in 1893, the railroad company, and in 1894 and 1895 the receivers, omitted all property that was firmly and fixedly attached to the right of way of said railroad company and to station grounds under the honest belief that the same constituted a part of the right of way and was exempt from taxation."
Subsequently the case came on to be heard, upon the intervening petition of the territory and the answer thereto
of the United States Trust Company and of the receiver, C. W. Smith, and the agreed statement of facts. Upon the hearing, the judge of the district court ordered the receiver to pay to the Treasurer of the County of Bernalillo the sum of $43,254.70, the amount ascertained by a special master to be the aggregate of the taxes levied upon the additional assessments and penalties. An appeal was taken from this order by the United States Trust Company, and also by the receiver, C. W. Smith, who had obtained from the court permission to take such an appeal. The order appealed from was reversed upon hearing before the supreme court of the territory, the court determining that the additional assessments placed upon the rolls were illegal and void. An application was made for a rehearing, which the court denied, and an appeal was taken to this Court.
The sections of the Act of July 27, 1866, with which we are concerned are inserted in the margin; [Footnote 1] also sections 2807, 2822, 2834, and 2835 of the
Compiled Laws of 1884 of New Mexico, relating to taxation. [Footnote 2]